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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  October 24, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with peter baker, chief whitehouse correspondent for the nobody times. his new book is called days of fire bush and cheney in the whitehouse. >> the mythology cheney was a public master is oversimplistic. but he was influential. he was able to have a weekly lunch alone with the president where he gets to lay out his case for things unrebutted by anybody else. he willed this sort of quiet power. you think of him being this robust force in the whitehouse but in meetings he would actually sit back quietly and not say anything. people around the table would look at them and he was say where is cheney coming from and a lot of times they wouldn't know. >> rose: we conclude with two of the greatest chefs in the world grant achatz and thomas keller. >> i don't think there's in the
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professor i know of any way that has such a strong bond. just with the generation we're part of but also the previous generation and the following generation. >> we're really trying to be original and be creative in our own way with our own voice. much in the same way that chef keller did and all the great chefs of the world. all of the great chefs. they found their own voice and they pushed on it. and that's what we're trying to do. >> rose: intrigue in the whitehouse, and brilliance in the kitchen when we continue.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> i welcome members of my cabinet, the whitehouse staff and the administration especially vice president dick cheney. [applause] from the day i asked, he served
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with loyalty, principle and strength. proud to call you friend. >> rose: peter baker is here he's the chief whitehouse correspondent for the "new york times." he's written a new book, the book is called days of fire, bush and cheney in the whitehouse. it is about one of the most influential political partnerships in american history. historian robert alex says peter baker's suburb biography of bush and cheney will stand as the most complete balanced discussion of the men and their administration for decades. i'm pleased to have peter baker back on this program. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: how do you have time to do this. >> i took some time off. i've been working on it for six years off and on. a year and-a-half off from the paper. i spent four years before that covering so in some ways this is as a result of ten years worth of work. and it's a compelling story. i found that it was almost experience in its quiet and compelling every night even after a day of other work, to try to dive back in and try to sort it out, figure out what really happen. those eight years are going to live with us for a long time.
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>> rose: for it to happen it had to overcome some a taught -- obstacles and odds. >> they didn't know each other very well. karl rove doesn't put dick cheney on his ticket, it will send a message you're adopting your father's team. >> rose: they'd a abhorrence looking like that. >> looking like his dad's boy. it's a great scene where bush brings karl rove in to say okay lay out the case why should i not pick dick cheney. but there's dick cheney sitting right next to president bush which i think is a pretty nerve wracking thing for an aide have to do. but cheney tried to make the same points. i get it there's lots of reasons not to pick me. i'm an oil man and i'm really conservative. bush says we know that dick. no i mean really conservative which i think a lot didn't quite
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get at first. >> rose: what was the attitude of the father. >> the father was supported. the father supported cheney. they'd a good relationship. w. bush asked his father at one point what does it mean when somebody says know much because cheney originally did say no when he sent his aide. bush pursued them and there's some suspicion of cheney role as the vice presidential committee. i was the selection committee. >> rose: what does that mean that he said no at the beginning, that he was not machiavellian and he wanted it all the time or something else. >> his argument would be how could i be machiavellian and turned it down. if i really wanted it i would have said yes to begin with. but clearly as the job took form, he did find it more appealing than he thought. he had wanted to be president at one point. he explored it in 1996, decided he didn't like rung around the country raising money and all of this stuff that required candidate.
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but being vice president, that had some appeal. >> rose: where was jim bakker on this, do you know. >> jim bakker is an old friend of both president bush 41 of course and dick cheney. at the time they were very close and he i think was supportive. but he did urge president bush 43 as he was coming in about don rumsfeld. >> rose: he wanted it too. >> he did too. he reminded the new incoming president remember what he did to your dad, there was bad blood between rumsfeld and bush 41. >> rose: what does that say about the president when his father and others said don't go there. does that suggested he had an independent mind. >> it suggests he wanted an independent break. he wanted to bring in some folks from his father's administration but it's an interesting thing to say of course because all he needed to do was ask his dad. but he wanted to make a break and he wanted to sort of put down his own marker. >> rose: what role did he think the vice president would play. did he as some suggested think
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the vice president would be a kind of prime minister? >> i don't think he saw him that way. he saw him first among equals as advisors. he did lean on him and empower him. one thing is in researching this book is busting some of the mythology, right. the mythology that cheney was the public master is over stating. it's overly simplistic. but it was significantly influential. he was given the run of a lot of different important issue areas. he was able to have a weekly lunch alone with the president where he gets to lay out his case for things unrebutted by anybody else. he willed this sort of quiet power. actually you think of him as being this robust force in the whitehouse but in meetings he would sit back quietly and not say anything and people around the table would look at themselves and say where is cheney coming from and a lot of times they wouldn't know. understood when they left the room he was still there left in the room. >> rose: that's what his father did with ronald reagan would not express his opinions a lot in the room with weight.
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>> they didn't force the same relationship that his son and cheney eventually did. >> rose: no, of course not. and with cheney and rumsfeld, then you had the combination of people who were deeply connected with each other. >> very much so. gave cheney his first significant jobs in washington, brought him into the nixon whitehouse the forward whitehouse. he was his mentor friend, vacationed together. eventually owned homes next to each other. they were very very close. it was hard to beat in the first administration. they carry a great deal of swag. and it stayed that way and that's interesting and that's sort of the story of this book. >> rose: a relationship evolved. >> relationship evolved. the day of fire. the title comes by president bush's second term inaugust recall address he uses the phrase a day of fire to describe 9/11 by saying days of fire we're in effect saying this is eight years of crises one after the other. natural disaster, war, financial crises.
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and as that second term comes along, vice president cheney finds himself increasingly distant from the president. president bush is moving in a new direction. he wants to repair some of the alliances he feels were fractured in the first term and changed some of the controversial elfments and it becomes so problematic. >> rose: and the tendency of condaleesa rice. >> he puts her as the secretary of state and uses her in effect as his proxy to pivot for that second term. she had advocates working on middle east, working on middle east peace. she add indicates diplomacy with north korea. and she advocates closing the cia prisons and overseas and so forth. and she sort of channels that desire by president bush to begin moving in a different direction. >> rose: there's a couple things i've done over the years having to do on the very subject of peter has. here they are. >> let's a conception, i'm asking this. that in the second term, you
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were less influential leading up finally to the disagreement over scooter libby. is that a fair statement. >> well, i think i probably had more influence in the first term. but i think my experience was more relevant in the first term. by the second term obviously he didn't put in his time. and so there was usually dependent on what the issues were on things like education, for example. that was his bailywick, he knew it. my side was more financial security. i offered at midterm halfway through the step down if he wanted to get somebody else. i always believed the president did not have that ability. i went to it three times and said mr. president, you need to know if you want to make a change here if you think you can get somebody who can do good work for you or if i'm carrying too much baggage, you know, i'm not going to stand in your way, i'm out of here.
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first two times he didn't really take me seriously. third time he did he wealth away thought about it for a couple days and came back and said no dick, you're my guy. >> rose: the second term, two things. there seems to be more called lisa less dick cheney. is that fair. >> again, this is the perfect example over allowing time to pass so that his historians can awe judge the truth. i know washington this is the kind of stuff i don't like. >> rose: what don't you like. >> the washington gossip, so and so was prevalent, so and so wasn't prevalent. it's almost like a zero sum. and the facts will speak for themselves. >> rose: the vice president told me he had less influence in the second. >> i mean that may be his perception, i don't know. he never said that to me and so you're much better getting people to talk than i am. i think what's important is for
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historians to look at each decision i make first and second term. and they will be able to study the advice i got. and then they will be able to conclude, you know, why i did what i did. >> rose: so why did he do what he did. >> he didn't actually deny it, did he. >> rose: no, he didn't. >> said i don't like this kind of discussion. >> rose: exactly right. he said to me -- >> cheney did, exactly. i interviewed him a couple times in the book and he says the same thing. because i think he sensed that things were not going the way he wanted them to go. iraq turned out to be messier than he had hoped. the weapons weren't there. he got into a second term he wants to redefine his presidency on a more positive basis. he adopts this notion a democracy agenda in his second term inaugural address. something cheney had nothing to do with. >> rose: the condaleesa's thing. >> and a more up lifting idea in
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favor of something instead of against. >> rose: let's go to the first term. an important aspect of these two is the war against iraqi that invasion. where was cheney. >> cheney was for it from the beginning obviously and after 9/11. because iraq tells you about the changing role the vice president plays, all right. in the very beginning 2001, they have a bombing attack on baghdad in retaliation for a no fly zone. president bush isn't aware this is going on and when he discovers it he says i want to talk to dick. the one person he wants to talk to is cheney to understand what's going on why it's happening. comes 20 02 cheney says it's time to attack northern iraq. there's a chemical weapons facility. at that point bush says no. this belies the whole myth that cheney calls the shot. given what a pain he became later for american forces. of course he almost singularly, that's too strong probably but
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very responsible for a lot of sectarian. >> rose: that's right. made it worse and worse and worse. >> much worse. >> rose: and finally killed by the special forces. >> cheney would say today i would say see if you had done what i said we would have been better off. bush didn't want to go there yet he wanted a slower more methodical approach toward the confrontation with iraq that eventually leads to the invasion next march. >> rose: did cheney also have the same point of view. >> they did. they were both in agreement on the earlier attack which didn't happen and they were in agreement with the later invasion which did. on the day he attacks president bush meets with his people in the oval office, he's given intelligence where sadaam hussein is. but at the end of the meeting he kicks everybody else out. it's just him and cheney in the room when that decision is made. because he trusted the seasoned proposal. >> rose: bob woodward would say he didn't ask. and someone said why. i don't remember why he said powell.
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the president said because i knew what they thought. that seems crazy to me. something as serious as going to war and you don't ask somebody buzz you assume you knew what they think. >> it became inevitable. nobody tried to stop it. it simply was deciding which direction for the train to go. >> rose: who started the train was my question. >> you have to put that at the president's feet. it's his administration. >> rose: puts on the agenda perhaps and brings it to him. >> paul was agitating for it from the very beginning. even from the day of 9/11 don rumsfeld is bringing this up with some of his aide -- >> rose: did they think this was going to be easy. >> i thought they thought it would be easier. he is not on the record unfortunately but i tell people the reason we invaded iraq was afghanistan was too easy. the country in a mood following
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911. >> they wanted to kick some you know what. >> rose: they essentially left afghanistan alone. we have the cia with the help of some people in the more than alliance. it's really like over. >> it seemed easy. it seemed like it worked. >> rose: and they could do it alone. >> the other thing have you to remember iraq is the period making the decision. not only do they have 9/11 but they have a series of other things that come up. the pakistani nuclear scientists meeting with osama bin laden. the scare at the whitehouse president bush and vice president cheney were told they might have been infected with a deadly pathogen that would kill them. every morning people would tell me every morning they would see this threat matrix and filled with hundreds of different ways people were trying to kill americans and you're president and vice president in that atmosphere. saddam hussein with potentially weapons of has destruction is
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this fixation, we can't allow somebody like that to have those kind of weapons out there. >> rose: there's a whole lot of things we can talk about. let me go on. so the second term comes and he decides first he's got to fire don rumsfeld. >> it takes two years in. he's very loyal to don rumsfeld long beyond the time his own staff and people in his family thought it would be. even colin powell says are you going to replace don as well and they said no. only after 2006 elections and that is about to go badly for the republicans is president finally goes in a different direction. he doesn't ask dick cheney. i asked the vice president about it and he says he didn't consult with me when he came to me it was a done deal. which tells you how things had changed. up until that point there were few major decisions that had been done without consulting the vice president. this one he knew wouldn't be popular. >> rose: was dick cheney hands on what they did to colin
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powell. >> dick cheney thought it was time for powell to move on. what powell would tell you is he had said several months before the election he thought it would be good for him to move on after the election. certainly cheney helped you know make sure that continued to happen. >> rose: we find what in terms of the president's mind. a sense that he's prepared to challenge what dick cheney wants in the second term. >> he does, increasingly. what's interesting is by the end of second term they're on opposite sides of almost every issue. they're on opposite sides not only big things like north korea and middle east peace but also lebanon, syria, climate change, gun rights, gay rights, auto bailout and so on. really interesting moment so president kicks everybody out of the room except for cheney on the day he goes to war with iraq. three or four years later he's brought in about this syrian nuclear facility and does united states attack that or allow
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israel to attack that or go another route. condoleezza wants a diplomatic route. vice president says we should attack it. who agrees with the vice president. no hands go up. not only does he go in the direction the vice president wants him to. in this room not alone just the two of them he sort of forced the vice president to confront his own isolation on this team. >> rose: let's go to scooter libby are. >> the final break in this eight year partnership. >> rose: the chief of staff. >> he was the chief of staff, national security advisor to cheney. he had been convicted for perjury, obstruction and justice in the cia case. prosecutors said he lied when he learned about the c.i.a. background of joe wilson wife who is the critic of the administration and said they mischaracterized intelligence to go to war. and vice president felt this was a political investigation, it was unjustified conviction. and he went to the president and he says i think you need to pardon scooter libelee on the way out the door the final week
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of the administration. and he keeps going back to the president again and again and again by his own account. the president is annoyed by this. he doesn't much like pardons to begin with, he's one of the most conservative or stringiest grarnt of pardon in presidential history because he thinks the system is rigged for those who have influence. here is the ultimate influence asking for a special pleading. he asks the lawyers to look at the case examine the transcript and they meet with libby at the end of the administration. came back to the president and says we think the jury was justified in their verdict. and the president says that's it. and he tells the vice president, and it's a very unusually harsh moment between the two of them. they both later recount in which the vice president says to him i think you're leaving a soldier on the battlefield. and it's painful. >> rose: you're leaving a good man wounded in the field of
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battle. >> more precisely exactly. and the president is hurt by this. he's struck and stunned by this because he never heard his vice president talk to him in such a sharp way. >> rose: almost judgmental. >> very judgmental. in a way, this is the final act of the partnership. after years of frustration he comes to the president and says in effect give me this last thing. give me what amounts to validation of our partnership that our partnership meant something and the president says no i'm not going to do the that. >> rose: cheney talked to you. >> he did. >> rose: george bush did not. >> he did not. he felt a "new york times" reporter couldn't be fair. >> rose: that's what he said. >> he did say that. you interviewed him saying historian is too early for any historians -- >> rose: therefore can we ask, do we get more of cheney's point of view who are than bush's point of view because bush refuses. >> i would have liked to talk to him obviously but i think we have both men's point of view. in the end intifer viewed 275
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people for a total of 400 interviews. >> chief of staff. >> colin powell, condaleesa rice, dawn rumsfeld, mike gerson, karen hughes, josh bolton. all these people. >> rose: take those people right there you just name, can you sum up most of them. was there a consensus about big cheney. >> it was overstate and in their view they circle vented him, condoleezza rice in particular announcing the treaty and the carbon of the president and made the candidate issues like the detention policy that the vice president brings to the president but he signs without a full-on process. >> rose: dick cheney told me in an interview he says it wasn't a close relationship, it was a professional relationship. >> right, yes. exactly. >> rose: it was never tha-รท they were never -- >> they did not socialize together, they didn't exchange
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birthday gives or hang out at cam david. if the president wanted to socialize it was condoleezza rice, she came for dinner and work outs with him. she has risen as the primary advisor as he becomes to fade in influence. >> rose: what do you think dick cheney really thought of george bush? >> i think he respects george bush. i think he's disappointed with george bush. i think he thinks that the president got away from the principles that they together had articulated on national security in the first term. that he became too concerned with his problems with popularity and too interested in trying to particularly on things like the harden, you know, worry about criticisms he might receive. >> rose: do you think cheney thought he wasn't tough enough?
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>> i think he thinks that, i don't know if i would put it that way. >> rose: how would you put it. >> i think he wouldn't say in public way but i think in private my guess is he thinks that president bush just moved away from the principles that they had had. >> rose: what do you think george bush today in dallas pursuing with a passion painting. when your mind goes back what do you think he thinks of what he did and didn't do. did he for example ever consider, you know, why and what went wrong. whether people let him down, whether his presence will always be clouded because of the advice of some people he thought were first right but might not have been. >> i think he must. there's a moment late in the administration, it's in the book where he's alone in the room in between meetings and he's there with bob gates and mike mullen
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chairman of joints chiefs. he says when i went into iraq i went around this table and i asked everybody do we have everything we need, do you have everything you need much ever was on board. and he just sits there and nobody in the room knew quite what he meant. but you could see in this moment him feeling quite chagrined about the at vice feeling misled or a little let down. or justifying his decision on the basis of what he's been told by the advisors. >> rose: here's what history should teach us. did they at that time ask the right questions. >> well clearly not. >> rose: not so much, you have everything you need, that's certainly a question you ask. but what's the exit strategy here. what is it you expect to find there. >> right. and he admits that now. he says that he should have had more troops to begin with, they should have done better planning of the post war. but they clearly misjudge what iraq was, they misjudged the
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weapons and what the challenge would be. >> rose: do you remember what ronald reagan said to the chairman of joint chefs. you want to go into grenada. do you have what you need. he said absolutely. reagan said triple it. >> yes. >> rose: grenada, you know. >> right. >> rose: the idea of military history. >> and his father done the same thing by the way. colin powell talks about this. if we give him a high number of the number of troops he's going to balk at this and powell and cheney says this too in some of the interviews. did the president have the you know what, the cajones. and senior bush said even more go to the top number. >> rose: and his heart. he's had a heart transplant. >> yes. >> rose: everybody i see says he looks great. >> he does. he's physically a different man, he's reinvigorated, energetic. his face look fuller. >> rose: how close to death with him. >> he was literally within
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hours. they had to rush him into the operating room. he was so close he wanted his family to be cremated and have his ashes returned to wyoming. it was a very close call then. >> rose: he thought he was going to die. >> he thought he was going to die, yes. he goes another 20 months after that operation before he gets the transplant. i saw him as you did, the library opening back in april. and i was in a bar where all the bush people were celebrating before the opening, and he was there. he never even made it inside because his mob in the parking lot and he's sitting there drinking what looked like maybe wine i'm not sure what it was and he's just mobbed by people and he's regaling them stories and he's energetic. he's going all the way until midnight. he outlasts his own daughter to accompany him. he was a different man physically. >> rose: what does dick cheney think of the world today. >> well he talks about this health odyssey and he's written this book. in spiritual terms, almost. it's really interesting because he doesn't seem like a spiritual
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man. and his friend david, the photographer asked him what does this mean it's spiritual are you a democrat now. he says it wasn't that spiritual. >> rose: there's this. so you write a book that's sort of, the second writing of history here. you got the journalist to write the first and people who write books within years early years write the second, third draft and fourth draft and continue to be written as we see with the kennedy assassination. >> absolutely. >> rose: what question did you not ever settle on an answer for that you most wanted to know? >> that's an excellent question. there's so many i would like to know. i have a list. >> rose: tell me some of them. >> well i would like to know, did the president ever, you know, second guess himself on the overall question. >> rose: got you. >> is there any moment in the dark of night that he ever, and i think he doesn't admit that and all the people i interview not one said he ever admitted that to him. >> rose: lyndon johnson did on vietnam all the time. >> george w. bush took a lesson from that thought of a
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disastrous thing that johnson communicated that to the country, communicated that to his own army and communicated that to the enemy and he was determined not to do that. >> rose: what else? >> i asked vice president cheney this question. i asked him in his heart of hearts even though he thought he was right on the issues of detention interrogation if he thought water boarding actually was a justified thing intellectually, was there any part of him even if is the justified that has some queasiness about it. was there any part of him that felt, you know, bad about. >> rose: others came to the conclusion it's just not american to do that. >> absolutely. and vice president cheney doesn't believe that and not only doesn't he believe that is doesn't allow for any, you know, other feeling within himself. i can understand how people can jowfer lots of different things intellectually but still feel some queasiness or some qualms about it. there are a lot of tough issues.
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moral trade offs to all of these things. and he acknowledges none of those. >> rose: you can say suppose you know you have someone who knows the name and if you don't get that name out of them that they get bombed. >> he saw lots of people bombed. >> rose: they thought they did for sure. >> vice president cheney saw ticking bombs all over. >> rose: that's why they say you can't understand what it's like to be there and to feel the sense of extreme urgency that we felt that we have got to save this country. >> and responsibility for it. >> rose: absolutely. >> when vice president cheney came to the whitehouse there was the 80's and continuity of exercise where he and a few others would be spirited off for a few days in some mountain retreat and simulate the end of the world in effect. that was the context in which he arrived at 9/11. >> rose: you also write about the president incumbent don't you. president obama. >> yes. >> rose: where do you think he is right now at this point in his term. >> well i think he's having fifth year blues, you know.
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it's a tough time fifth year of a two-term presidency. the re-elected behind you, that's the governing principle of the entire first term and the once victory you've won. after that it becomes more difficult, you get compromises and half victories. in this case the president didn't get gun controllable, hasn't yet got immigration. had a bad time on syria. >> rose: does not have a budget. >> doesn't have a budget. and in fact the victory he just won to the extent he has won over this government shut down is just punting the ball down the field in a few months and we don't know if it's anything larger. >> rose: this is called days of fire bush and cheney in the whitehouse. peter baker, thank you. >> thank you, appreciate it. >> rose: back in a moment, stay with us. >> there's a young chef who i adore. he's a tremendous young chef, tremendous quality at a restaurant called palenia. i don't know if you've been there or not. if you haven't you should go.
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does an extraordinary job. he straddles that contemporary nouvelle cuisine today and traditional cuisine. again it has reference points but still promises you. >> rose: that was thomas keller in 2008 talking about his protege grant achatz. like in california and per se new york have three michelin stars. the documentary is called spinning plates. here is the trailer for the film. >> you need to eat out. why do you go he to a instrument, to be entertained, enjoy yourself and celebrate. >> this is a place where food is at once art, at once craft and at once science. >> it's like my home. >> we're in a small community but sometimes on sunday there are 2000 people. >> that's an adventure. every customer is like a guest
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in my house. >> number seven in the world number one in the u.s. >> gram was always pushing the envelope. >> we're going to things nobody else has done. my wife cooks like an angel. every as peg of my life is about being creative. >> customers have their own -- >> it's more like a community more than anything. >> fried chicken it smells so good. there's been times i shut the store up and gone up there. >> the country restaurant is burned to the ground. >> there was an explosion that blew me out of the kitchen. >> the basement -- in my house because i get behind in my payments. this has become resource of survival for us. >> the greater irony the chef with sun cancer. there was 60% chance that you're going to die. if you can't taste, i don't even want to be here. >> the restaurant defines the town. >> we're just holding on to see what would happen.
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>> this is our life. >> we're doing all this for family. >> we would all do everything in our power to help them get going. >> people say how do you come from a diner to this. it's the same, making people feel comfortable and exhilarating, it's emotional. that's a restaurant. >> rose: i'm pleased to have grant achatz and thomas are keller at this table. are you surprised to see the recommendation, the scene at the beginning. >> feels pretty good. >> you were just about a year old then. no not you but the restaurant. >> yes, 2005. >> rose: how did you two first meet. >> i wrote a letter to can chef keller wanting to work at the
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french -- for months and months and finally he says yes. >> rose: you wrote more than one letter. >> multiple letters. i think there was probably 15 all in. >> rose: what would you say? >> it ranged from i really feel passionate about working for you and i love the french laundry from what i've seen and read and finally he called me and he said why do you keep writing me these letters. >> quit sending me letters. >> rose: harassing him. it worked. >> it worked. >> rose: he probably brings the same passion to cooking that he brought into getting a job with you. >> well it really shows with what he does. >> rose: when you went to i guess it was october 28th, 1996 was your first day. >> it was. >> rose: what was that like. >> life changing. >> rose: life changing. >> yes. and not only from the culinary point of view but from anything out how you're going to live the rest of your life meeting people
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that are still in my life today. it was a monumental step to be coming. >> rose: who you are today. >> yes. >> rose: did you know it at at that time moment. >> no. but as the whole thing unraveled and the four and-a-half years that i was there, being mentored by chefs and meeting people that ultimately would become great friends. it was the most important step in my career. >> rose: do you spot the ones that have something special? >> yes, certainly. i think you can tell there's something special there when someone comes in the kitchen and works and you see their ability, you know. it's kind of a natural ability, whether that's the way they walk to the kitchen or the way they hold their knife, the way they clean their station. just the way they handle food. there's a huge -- >> rose: that's exactly the word i was going to use, it
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shows respect -- >> when you see that in somebody, it's okay there's somebody who is going to be wonderful and great some day. >> rose: you also worked with -- what did you learn from him. >> well, i learned actually chef set up for me at that restaurant. i knew nothing about -- >> rose: that's a restaurant that was closed for a while. >> right. chef keller said to me at one point i really think that you should spend a week in this kitchen because of your curiosity and your kind of knack for looking beyond what is right in front of us. i went there and you know go there at the time as a sou chef at the french laundry considered the best restaurant in the world. so there's a certain arrogance, there's a certain ego that a young man has a young chef.
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and when i walked into that kitchen outside of barcelona, everything is new. so the smells, language and cooking connect neaks is something i'm not familiar with it. it's very humbling and made me come back to the u.s. and question what exactly i wanted to do with cooking. >> rose: and the answer? >> the answer was to do exactly what chefs did which was forge your own path. rather it would have been very easy for me to go out and open a restaurant and cook thomas keller food. but by going to and seeing somebody doing something completely different, it made me realize i need to actually figure out what i want to do. how i want to express my way
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through cuisine. >> rose: that's a very important factor finding your own individuality and authenticity. >> it was perfect timing for him. he saw when he was in the kitchen at the time that he needed something else. and it's funny because there was a piece if i think gourmet magazine at the time about him. so i brought it in the kitchen and i said grant do you know about this restaurant. and that was at the time when you started to see in hear, read about this new kind of cuisine. nouvelle cuisine which every generation has. and i thought this was perfect opportunity for grant to, you know, to get the experience something that was going to be different but something that aligned with a lot of with his interests were at the time. >> rose: do you look at him and say i see there in his eyes, his passion myself as a younger person? >> you know in some ways i think the greatest thing about our
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profession, is that there's an attachment to history. and i look at the chefs that came before me, the chefs that taught me, you know, those great chefs. and you see a little bit of yourself in them as self and you hope they see a little bit of them in you. so we pass this, we pass on this connection to cooking and to nurturing people from generation to generation and generation. so yes, i think we all see that. and it's about community. and i don't think there's another profession that i know of anyway that has such a strong bond. not just with the generation that they're a part of, but also with the previous generation and the following generation. >> rose: and it starts so early in your life. >> yes. at a very young age. >> it becomes very important and pervasive within the industry
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where now when you go to other kitchens that cooks may not have even worked for chef keller, but that mantra and that language and that respect is carried out throughout their kitchens because he set that pace. and i think that it elevates our industry to a level of professionalism that is pretty hard to come by. >> take a look at this. this is a clip, want you to see what it's like spin in place i think this is you talking. here it is. >> there's so much going on in terms of upside. i'm afraid to turn any of it down. i was talking to heather last night when i got home at 3:00 in the morning. she says to me, what are you doing. you almost died. don't forget, you almost died three years ago. people that have stage iv cancer, they don't sleep four
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hours a night. they sleep eight because that's what their doctors tell them they're supposed to do so the cancer doesn't come back. you're sleeping four hours a night, that's ridiculous. you're going to kill yourself. you have two kids, you have me. and i look at her and i can't argue with her. i can't say no you're not right. because she is right. but right now the opportunity is too great. everything is lining up in a way that i've never seen it line up before. it's either going to help me attain my most wild fantasies, the most prominent life goals i've ever had. or it's going to kill me and i'm not really sure which yet. and i don't really care. i don't have a choice. >> still here. >> rose: tell me about what you said. >> i feel like if people are truly passionate about what they
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do and really wholeheartedly believe in it, as i mentioned, you almost don't have a choice. not that you don't want to make a choice, but it cat puddle -- catapults you into this energy and sense of being in that if you weren't doing it, you would feel unfulfilled. >> and life wouldn't have the same meaning. >> absolutely. >> rose: what do we get out of this film. >> i think there's a strong message about community here, you know. and you any about francisco and gabby and her daughter ashley and the struggle that they have. and he talks about, he talks about something in the film that really resonates i think with both of us and that's memories, is giving our guest memories.
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and i think that's something that's really really important. you think about whatever instrument it is, whether it's kachina gabby, people walk out of those restaurants with the connection of that restaurant, the community of that restaurant. j!ink that's really for me a very strong message about this film. it's about community. it's shared regardless whether it's, you know, the ultimate fine dining restaurant and the ultimate community restaurant or some two young immigrants who are trying to make their way. and live the american dream for their daughter. it's about that community, about those memories. >> rose: what are you most proud of? >> oh, charlie, i have so many things that i'm proud of. i think that what i'm most proud of is the next generation. the grant achatz, the david
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brains, the eric seabolts who are continuing this quest for i don't want to say greatness but to bring to america and to our culture and our society a really wonderful connection to the table and to each other. because let's face it, ter -- ae end of the day the experience around the table is about those individuals around the table. to be able to offer wonderful food in a great setting so family and friends can come together and experience something that is compelling, that resonates with them. i think that's something we can all really be proud of. >> rose: how do you two differ? >> age. [laughter] >> i think we look at it very similarly. but there's a generation gap
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that makes it different. so in other words, you know, where chef food was maybe more based on class exwestern european technique. and then he took the american ingenuity and approach that french laundry per se for me now is more about trying to find my way to create that next genre of cooking. where, this is difficult for me to say when he's sitting right across the table from me. >> rose: i love it. every moment i love it. >> in the 90's, in the late 90's and early 2000's and even up
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until this point, you know, thomas keller and -- french laundry have solidified brands and a repertoire of cuisine and a baseline of excellence. so now the next generation that he had spoke of, we're trying to define ourselves. we know we have to make it different. so what do we do? what do we utilize to carve out our own identity. >> rose: i'm not going to push you on this but can you define it or is it simply an ongoing process to define what makes you. >> i think it's an ongoing process but i also think that there's also a very deliberate way of us analyzing what has already been done.
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and saying to ourselves, those are against the rules now. because one thing i say in the film is if we copied anyone, we failed. and our approach is that we can respect tradition, we can respect other chefs and the way they forged the past but we're really trying to be original and be creative in our own way with our own voice. much in the same way that chef keller did and all of the great chefs of the world, you know, charlie charter, all the great chefs. they found their own voice and they pushed on it. and that's what we're trying to do. >> rose: did you compare what you did to sports. >> the analogy i used about sports is in a restaurant, is
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that the way i look at our restaurants, is as a sports franchise. and i have looked at that in that way four a long time. >> rose: meaning you need a perfect quarterback and wide receiver. >> if you're going to have a great franchise -- >> rose: you need new talent coming in. >> exactly. arguably the best sports franchise in history, and how come they're the best sports franchise. because they're looking at thins generationally. they're looking at the who is the next derek jeter and making sure that they're hiring that person that they're going to train that person, mentor that person so that you're always thinking about who is going to replace your top talent today. to from a true legacy, i believe you have to be able to identify the talent that's coming up in order to continue this idea of a great restaurant. otherwise the great restaurant dies with you. >> rose: with respect to what you said though it seems to me the yankees have used their
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power and their bank account to prove itself somewhere else. >> use the analogy, maybe the yankees is the wrong example because they do have such a wealth. but being able to identify talent so that you can continue to perpetuate the quality of what you've grown, what you've established. you need to be able to look at it generationally and say i need to be able to make sure i have somebody coming to my restaurant that's going to be the franchise player. >> rose: exactly. the franchise player does what in a restaurant. >> the franchise player could be the pastry chef could be the chef cuisine, or the sou chef. connects with the philosophy and culture of the strawnltd and able to perpetuate. not only perpetuate it but make it evolve that's one thing about restaurants we're continuing evolving. we as chefs, we can start the
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ball rolling but, and i think grant will agree with this, we really rely on our staff to help us understand what we're trying to trying to execute. and help us find the mechanisms and the tools to be able to execute what our vision is. >> we speak about, we use that sports analogy with the yankees and but one thing that i think is critically important whether it be sports or restaurants is i for instance wouldn't be where i'm at had i not been mentor by chef. so there is a part of making a great restaurant not only bringing in passionate talented people but nurturing and training and mentoring along the way to make them fit into the system, to make them great at what they do. and then you have longevity and
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you have, you have your great quarterback at some point. he might come in at a high school, and as you work him through the system, he's going to be your great quarterback at some point. >> -- was a perfect example. coming to the french laundry by pure accident who 12 years later became the chef cuisine working his way through. but it's also true, it's okay if they leave. it's okay if they leave the restaurant. in some ways that's good for them but it also, it also helps the standards of our profession grow because let's face it, it's not just about our restaurant, it can't be just about our restaurant, there needs to be a larger goal than that. these a commonnallity to be able to see the talent, mentor your talent and if they leave your
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restaurant that's good. and you continue to have higher standards. that's our ultimate goal is to increase the standards about our profession not just our own restaurant. >> rose: let's talk about cancer before we go. cancer of the tongue. >> yes. >> rose: when you found out, what did you say to yourself. >> i got to fight this. i can't let this. it was, you know, i was 33 when i got diagnosed at that point i had been working in kitchens all my life. and working 16-18 hours a day. and at that point you still feel like you're invincible. i didn't feel like i was 33, i felt like i was 23. and to be faced with that severity of illness was, it takes you back. because you would never think that would happen at that point. >> rose: and because you're in the midst of your dream. >> you're right in the middle of
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it. we had just opened and magazine the best in the country, we're busy, everything was going really well. and you know, you get hit with that news. but like you're saying, much of the same way that we approach every day going into the kitchen, where you're basically have to climb the mountain every day when you go into the kitchen. i said to myself, well, it's just another mountain that i'm going to have to climb. and it was a steep mountain. but you know, it's doable. >> rose: how are you today. >> fine. so, a little over five years of treatment, the doctors now are telling me that the chances of me getting any type of cancer
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are similar to anyone else on the planet getting cancer. so the good thing with the university of chicago and the way they approach medicine is exactly like we would think about food. analyzing it, taking it apart piece by piece and then putting it back together. and they did it in such a smart way that it was order of preservation was the priority and then saving life. and they accomplished both. >> rose: congratulations. >> thank you. >> rose: good to have you here at the table. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you tom, a pleasure. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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